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Terrified of Street Photography? So Am I! Here’s How I Do It

by Mridula Dwivedi.

I am truly terrified of street photography. It is such a daunting task to point my camera at a stranger’s face and click. I know in India (and many other places) not too many people mind, but I just completely freeze somehow. Yet I was fascinated by street photography. I would keep reading tips after tips thinking something would unlock the secret for me. In the end I had to discover my own way. I am still far from comfortable but I look forward to street photography as well on my trips. These are the things that got me started, even if tentatively.

My Street Photography Tips

Shooting Things

Street Photography

Since I was petrified of shooting people I started with shooting things. Most of the times, the street vendors are fine when you walk up close, exchange a glance towards their stuff and raise an eyebrow. They generally wave a hand to go ahead. I know this is not real street photography but I had to start somewhere. That is where I started and remained, for a very long time.

Use a Zoom Lens

Street Photography

I know, every self street respecting street photographer would advise you against it. But remember we are not dealing with a self respecting street photographer but terrified street photographer. I actually gathered courage only after I used a 75-300 to shoot people walking by at Phewa Lake in Pokhara, Nepal. I was sitting on a bench under shade as it was too hot. I saw boats coming and going as well as people walking by the lake. I decided to use the zoom. No one took any notice as I was a little away from the scene. It helped that I stationary as well. Using a zoom lens certainly got me started.

Framing Wider

Street Photography
So, when I found myself in the colorful border market at Aranyaprathet (Thai-Cambodia border) recently I wanted to do street photography. I was using a 50 mm prime lens which would not let me zoom anything. I wanted to click the man under the umbrella but my nerves failed me as usual. I then decided to frame the scene wider. What to do, you have to think of ways to click things when you are scared of offending people.

Clicking Busy People

Street Photography
While walking through the Rong Kluea Market at the Thai-Cambodian border I realized that the vendors were so busy doing their business they hardly had any time for nosy photographer. Now that is a good thing for scared novices like me.

Positioning Myself in a Corner

Street Photography
But what has worked best for me is positioning myself in a corner of a busy street. That way I could watch the world go by and occasionally get a picture too. I must have clicked at least 30 pictures standing at this particular corner of Rong Kluea Border Market. Not one person stopped and asked me what I thought I was doing! A very happy scenario if you ask me.

Mridula Dwivedi is a full time academician from India. She blogs at Travel Tales from India. Her blog has taken her places as she was invited by the tourism boards of South Africa, Malaysia and recently Thailand.

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